Wiki Spanish Food interviews Paco Roncero, head chef at Casino de Madrid.
Verónica Martos. Periodista. @martosveronica
Wikispanishfood.com.- You participated in Andalucía Sabor this year. How do you view these types of fairs for promoting Spanish gastronomy?
Paco Roncero.- They are wonderful. They also help us with another, much more important aspect: growth. I have say that if Spanish cooking has evolved, it is because these events have given us the chance to come together and to share with one another.
Wikispanishfood.com.- Your cooking stands out because it is innovative. Where does your inspiration come from?
P.R.- Everything is based on the raw material; that is always the starting point for any dish. I have always believed that inspiration comes from knowledge, from studying every ingredient, every technique, and then combining them to achieve the desired result.
Wikispanishfood.com.- You have shown great enthusiasm for olive oil, a truly Spanish product. How did you come to feel so passionately about it?
P.R.- It all started at a conference where we were given the challenge of creating a dish with olive oil. When we started to work with it, we discovered its myriad qualities, where not only flavor and aroma, but also—and most importantly—texture are the central focus of high-flying culinary research.
Wikispanishfood.com.- Which olive oil properties stand out? How can it be used in cooking?
P.C.- As the pressed olive juice that it is, it reflects the olive's aromas, textures and flavor, and every variety of olive produces distinct virgin oils with unique characteristics. Each variety has its organoleptic "signature" which distinguishes it from others; this offers us great variety with enormous possibilities.
Wikispanishfood.com.- Could you tell us about your creations in which olive oil is the main ingredient?
P.C.- In recent years, we have made several dishes in which olive oil is the leading ingredient, from a traditional olive oil butter to olive oil gumdrops. We’ve also made Olive oil soba noodles over hot dashi, serving the soba at the table, as well as olive oil paella, changing the grains of rice for grains made with olive oil.
Wikispanishfood.com.- How do you determine which type of olive oil to use in your dishes?
P.C.- It depends on the final result we are looking for in terms of aromas, textures and flavor.
Choosing an oil to prepare a dish requires an exhaustive analysis since, within a single variety, there are distinguishing nuances which depend, for example, on the date that the olive was picked. We recently completed a study in this connection, which we presented at Andalucía Sabor a few days ago…
From a single variety we can obtain a wide range of nuances in terms of flavor, color and texture, depending on the maturity of the olive and where it comes from.
Wikispanishfood.com.- Do you prefer one variety of oil over another?
P.R.- It depends on each situation... but if I have to choose, I prefer Arbequina and Ocal, which is somewhat less well-known.
Wikispanishfood.com.- What have you learned from your research into olive oil?
P.R.- We have become more familiar with this incredible Spanish product, and we should strive to position it as one of the most indispensable products in the world.
Wikispanishfood.com.- What is your most outstanding creation with olive oil?
P.R.- Any of the dishes I mentioned earlier.